ECONOMY

Dry-bulk revenues outstrip those of tankers, study shows

A new study has compared the revenues of two types of vessels, dry-bulk carriers and tankers, in order to ascertain their respective net returns for the last few years. The relatively simple calculation involves several estimates of the daily revenues of all types of vessels in each category, minus their expenses, and then projecting their operation over a 12-month period. There are significant changes from December 1997 to December 2007, with the revenues of dry bulkers overtaking those of tankers last summer. Dry-bulk carriers generated estimated revenues of $74 billion compared with just $50 billion for tankers. Historically this has been the first time that tankers’ revenues have significantly lagged those of dry-cargo carriers. In July 2006, tankers posted revenues of $65 billion for the whole of the year, while dry bulkers struggled to reach $25 billion. The total figures for the decade stand at $238 billion for dry-bulk carriers and $381 billion for tankers. So what has happened to all this high income? In the first eight months of 2007, investors in dry-bulk carriers enjoyed revenues of $57 billion and spent $47.6 billion in orders and acquisitions of new vessels, while last year, when tankers brought high returns of $63 billion, they invested $56 billion in new ship orders. When one examines longer periods of time, such as a decade, it is evident that owners of dry bulkers have invested $133 billion in new vessels, which represents 55 percent of their revenues, while those owning tankers have invested $198 billion, which accounts for 51 percent of their net revenues. Consequently, the message from this study appears to be clear, namely that the high number of orders for new vessels may well be justified.